Last Friday night Anne Lamott and Elizabeth Gilbert spoke at Royce Hall at UCLA. I had ordered tickets five months ago as soon as I read about the event, and got seats in the front row. (Unlike the Mary Oliver poetry reading where I waited until the last minute and had seats in the last row.) My husband had read Eat, Pray, Love, but didn’t really have a clue to who Anne Lamott was and there she was like five feet away.
Elizabeth Gilbert opened with a graceful and funny talk about Annie –and then Annie read a hilarious essay about skiing. The rest of the program was the two of them in conversation. They had just met twenty minutes before they came on stage and it showed in both sweet and awkward ways. Annie Lamott’s ease and openness with her legendary fears and hangups, her loathing of George W. and most other Republicans, her mix of humor and heart felt detail, her unique and hilarious take on her very serious born-again faith, plus her timing on stage is riveting. You can't take your eyes off her. One of the best parts of the evening was when she lit into politics with no holds barred. (My husband now has this tiny – or not so tiny – okay, huge crush on her.)
That said, I realize that ninety percent of the notes I took were quotes from Elizabeth. (She thinks of herself writing as a plow mule; she’s got a contact and she’s just doing the work. She has an office away from home now over a laundry and she was watching a guy replace some of the linoleum floor and comparing her writing to just laying down linoleum.) She has sold four million copies of Eat, Pray, Love. If you haven’t read it, go buy it immediately. And if you haven’t read Bird by Bird or any of Annie Lamott’s collected essays, go to your favorite bookstore or click on Amazon.
Annie’s dreads are shorter now and bleached, she wore ankle high red boots with strange silver studs, and pink polka dotted socks, plain pants and a blouse, and her face gets scrunchier as she grows older. My husband thought she was more beautiful than Elizabeth Gilbert – who is gorgeous without a lick of make-up, tall and curvy in a purple dress and brown boots. I love it that he prefers the older writer with funny hair, wearing glasses and weird clothes.